Monday, February 14, 2011

So Where Are the Jobs? Or Was that Really the 'Mandate'?

Of course we've all heard it, haven't we? The supposed 'mandate' of the November 2010 elections? Ending big government 'overreach', return to constitutional fundamentals and of course the number one reason: jobs, jobs, jobs...

So what's happened since the elections? Well, the unemployment rate has fallen to 9%, but since the incoming GOP majority were just sworn in in January they can't take credit for that (although, enough pundits are doing all they can to throw cold water on the significance of that number). They have spent an awful lot of time on symbolic efforts to repeal healthcare reform. But aside from that, what's been happening? New York Times columnist Charles Blow gives us a window into the preoccupation of the new majority and the sweep that brought in the largest number of Republican state legislators since the Great Depression.

They've focused on immigration: "As MSNBC and Telemundo reported recently, at least 15 state legislatures are considering Arizona-style immigration legislation. If passed, four of the five states with the largest Hispanic populations — California, Texas, Florida and Arizona — would also be the most inhospitable to them."
"As Fox News Latino recently reported, state legislatures are poised to break the record on the number of immigration measures and resolutions introduced this year, having already introduced 600 by the end of last month. For comparison, 1,400 were introduced in total last year, according to a report issued last month by the state legislatures’ group. A record number of those laws were enacted."
"And, according to the State Legislators for Legal Immigration, which was founded by State Representative Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican of Pennsylvania, lawmakers from 40 state legislatures have joined the group that last month unveiled “model legislation to correct the monumental misapplication of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”"
Of course, the most 'monumental misapplication' of the Constitution's 14th Amendment, is the one that interprets the amendment to give corporations the same status as persons. That's the one that allowed the Supreme Court the judicial rationale that has resulted in corporations to give unlimited contributions to political campaigns. But there's no interest in revisiting that! And swept aside the fact that the history of amending the constitution, with the exception of two amendments are to broaden and clarify the rights of individual, not to restrict those rights. 
So much for 'monumental misapplications'...
Such efforts also sweep aside practical considerations that go to the political thoughtlessness of these overtly ideological efforts. "...Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a potential candidate for the White House in 2012."

"The House passed its own version of the bill last week, and the two versions must be reconciled before it can go to Barbour's desk. He has signaled that he would likely sign it if it does, but the equation is a delicate one."
"Strict enforcement of immigration law is an important Republican talking point, especially among conservative voters and those aligned with the Tea Party movement. But Barbour acknowledged that immigrant voters also are an important constituency, especially in Mississippi, where immigrants flocked to the state for rebuilding jobs after Hurricane Katrina devastated the coast in 2005."
""I don't know where we would have been in Mississippi after Katrina if it hadn't been for the Spanish speakers that came in to help rebuild, and there's no doubt in my mind that some of them weren't here legally," Barbour said. "If they hadn't come and stayed for a few months or a couple of years, we would be way, way, way behind where we are now.""
They've also got a cultural agenda...
"On the gay rights front, Republicans in Iowa, Indiana, West Virginia and Wyoming (where Matthew Shepard was tortured to death) are pushing constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage...Republicans in New Hampshire have filed bills to overturn that state’s same-sex marriage law, even though, according to a recent WMUR Granite State Poll, the state’s residentswant to leave the law in place by a majority of more than 2 to 1..."
And then there's an agenda for the criminal justice system...
"According to The News and Observer in North Carolina, Republicans are considering severely narrowing or repealing the state’s recently enacted Racial Justice Act, which allows death-row inmates to use statistics to appeal their cases on the basis of racial discrimination."
"Two studies of the death penalty in the state have found that someone who kills a white person is about three times as likely to be sentenced to death as someone who kills a minority."
"And in Wisconsin, Republicans are pushing a bill that would repeal a 2009 law that requires police to record the race of people they pull over at traffic stops so the data could be used to study racial-profiling."
Now, none of this has anything to do with jobs. The Constitution is visited in a very ideological, imbalanced, inconsistent and xenophobic way. And the rest resembles a agenda worthy of the moral majority, with somewhat arguable morality and a questionable majority. 
In Texas, budget woes, caused by a misguided effort to avoid raising Texas that resulted in insufficient revenue for the state are resulting in proposed cuts in healthcare, to the elderly, in the prison system and drastic cuts in public and post secondary education. All choices which hurt the most vulnerable in our state...
Which brings to mind a question: what serious person doesn't think that we don't pay a cost for this type of misguided, regressive politics? And what serious person doesn't understand that the costs are monetary as well as societal?
Blow appears to have it right..."Republican state lawmakers, emboldened by their swollen ranks, have a message for minorities, women, immigrants and the poor: It’s on!" 
Elections do have consequences...so does thoughtless governance...
Now, where are all of these jobs? It's been a couple of months already!

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